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An Ember in the Ashes

(An Ember in the Ashes #1)

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  201,761 ratings  ·  24,767 reviews
Alternative Cover Edition #1

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death.

When Laia’s grandparents are brutally murdered and her brother arrested for treason by the empire, the only people she has left to turn to are the rebels.

But in exchange for their help in saving her brother, they demand that Laia spy on the ruthless Commandant of Blackcliff, the Empire’s
Paperback, 450 pages
Published February 11th 2016 by HarperVoyager (first published April 28th 2015)
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Sadia Begum OMG I want them together too! I like Keenan with Laia more so I was hoping Elias and Helene would go together. this whole love square gives me a heada…moreOMG I want them together too! I like Keenan with Laia more so I was hoping Elias and Helene would go together. this whole love square gives me a headache. why can't elias and laia help each other as friends with common goals? nope, they have to fall in love(less)
Raven I thought the same thing too and tweeted the author right after! Penguin only bought one book but she said that she already has the character's storie…moreI thought the same thing too and tweeted the author right after! Penguin only bought one book but she said that she already has the character's stories planned to the end and it depends on whether the readers and Penguin want another book. I'm crossing my fingers that that's the case because like you said, this is an awesome book and it would suck if Laia and Elias's story just ended like that. :/(less)

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Emily May
“This life is not always what we think it will be,” Cain says. “You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Veturius. You will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You cannot stop it.”

I think a lot of people will understand me when I say that the best kind of books are those that provoke strong emotions in you. My favourites are made up of books that filled me with happy excitement or, alternatively, books that ripped my heart out and made me cry. An Ember in the Ashes, however
Sasha Alsberg
Feb 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
An Ember in the Ashes is truly a unique and captivating book that I recommends everybody reads! Cannot wait for the second book in this series =D
Jesse (JesseTheReader)
HOLY SMOKES THAT WAS GOOD. I'm sososo happy that there's going to be a sequel. I'D BE SO MAD IF THEY JUST LEFT ME HANING LIKE THAT. YOU CAN'T DO THAT. YAY FOR SEQUELS. *throws confetti* ...more
Apr 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-owned-read

This book is totally going to have a sequel.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christine Riccio
Really enjoyed this one!!! Flew through it - here's my booktalk: =D ...more
The Burning Rose (Jess)
5/5 stars.
This is the third time I'm reading this book. And the third time I finish this book with my mouth open. The third time I was rocking through strong emotions - with the characters, about the characters. This is the third time that I am proud of the author and delighted that this book exists. Because I think every person should understand how to write a book in the most incredible way.

In this book you can experience all kinds of emotions. Fury, about the world where the characters live.
Steph Sinclair

My original review for this book consisted of the following statement:

Ugh. So boring.

And for some reason those three words have kinda pissed peeps off and landed me in some hot water elsewhere. But no matter. I feel like enough time has passed for me to give my true feelings.

So here they are:

This book is mediocre. There's nothing special about it. Nothing groundbreaking is contained in its pages. In other words, it's average. And that's what a 2 star rating for me is. I'm one of those reviewers
sometimes you read a book and you know instantly - this is going to be huge. whether it's the quality of the writing, the freshness of the premise, the way it piggybacks onto something already immensely popular, or just a case of right time/right zeitgeist - you just know.

and this book is going to be a star.

and it should be. this book is a perfect example of crossover YA. there is nothing juvenile about it, and it will have broad appeal to adults as well as teens. it has fantastic world-buildi
Dec 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
“The field of battle is my temple. The swordpoint is my priest. The dance of death is my prayer. The killing blow is my release.”

One word.


Dear Book Gods,
I beg you to forgive me for not reading this masterpiece sooner. I will graciously accept any punishment you deem appropriate. I would also like to thank you for bringing this book into my life. You guys rock!

Sincerely, Sabaa Tahir's new stalker fan

The story
“You are full, Laia. Full of life and dark and
C.G. Drews
This is very technically a reread...and comes with the most morose little story of how I read it back in 2015 and it just, wow, it did not click for me. But I always felt confused by that, because it's exactly the story I usually love (plus I follow the author online and she's hilarious). So you know?! I tried it again, 5 years later, via audio and ...[chef's kiss] The mood was right. The stars aligned. THIS was what I needed. And my brain is like a dismal sieve so I actually remembered 20% from ...more
Apr 02, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: overrated, 2015


I know Sabaa Tahir hardly received any criticism and absolutely everybody is amazed.
Not me.
I'm the opposite of amazed.

For starters, the concept is ancient. Boy and Girl are actually enemies but fall for each other. There is a spark. There is a revolution. There is a trial where the competitors have to fight until only one survives.
Much creative.
Still, some authors are able to work out a thrilling story. Sabaa Tahir was not.
Next thing, the characters are shallow. There is no character depth
"The swordpoint is my priest. The dance of death is my prayer. The killing blow is my release."

An Ember in the Ashes is a double PoV fantasy+dystopia novel that takes place in the Martial Empire , an alternate universe with an uncompromising class system.

Elias is a soldier, a Mask (elite class) in a military academy: The very much dreaded and torturous, Blackcliff.

Laia belongs to an oppressed class, that of Scholars and her brother has been charged with treason. Laia joins the Res
Reading_ Tam_ Ishly
⚔️Most favourite character : Helene Aquilla

⚔️What surprised me: The unexpected turn of events towards the end.

Now we can expect more than one strong villian in the sequel.

⚔️What worked out that made me jumped to the next book without even waiting for a blink:

The confusion between the characters worked out quite well towards the end and there's so much to look forward to. The writing doesn't waste words. So yes, 400 something pages awaits me for more chilling reading.

⚔️Elais and Laia:

These chara
Jul 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: author-of-colour
What a whirlwind! This book was just so damn exciting to read! I felt high constantly, because Sabaa Tahir was not letting her readers breath for even a moment. Well, she’ll give you a minute or two, then it’s back to chaos again, AND IT WAS AWESOME!

I can’t believe this was actually intended to be a standalone at first. As if they were planning to leave us with that ending and so many plot lines left open.

I did fear at first that the plot was taking centre stage and there wasn’t going to be any
Dana Kenedy (Dana and the Books)
This review can also be found on my blog, Dana and the Books.

This book was amazing. Sabaa Tahir, I love you.

An Ember in the Ashes has been hovering on my to-read list ever since it's release about a year ago.  It got a lot of praise, a lot of hype, and it's all totally warranted.  It even earned a spot on my 'favourites' list.

Laia's grandparents are murdered and her brother taken prisoner; her only course of action is to join the resistance against the empire to save her brother.  Elias is a sol
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
okay. in 2019, some things are going to change. i am going to take the whole ‘new year, new me’ to heart, beginning with not waiting YEARS to read a book that everyone has told me to read. because i really havent been living my best life without this.

this was the fantasy story ive been needing recently. i was very much impressed with the world building - this introduced a lot of different aspects, and whilst not everything immediately affected the plot of this particular book, i felt like there
Sara Raasch
Jul 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book will destroy you.

(PS: Elias is mine shhhh no one understands him like I do)
Mark Lawrence
It took me forever to read this book, and the reason is that it never really engaged me.

Tahir is a good writer and the story has much to recommend it. The story is delivered through two first person points of view in present tense – which is a bold and refreshing approach. I’m just not the reader it’s aimed at.

Ember in the Ashes is the first book I’ve read (all the way through) in decades that wears its YA colours so boldly. Many things that are complex in reality are made simple. The “factions
Robin Hobb
Jun 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An Ember in the Ashes is a deceptively simple read. The writing is as smooth as silk and keeps one reading long after the lights should have been out. Short chapters and the youthful viewpoints might put this book firmly in the Young Adult category.

But the questions considered in this book are the very questions that must be considered as one moves into adulthood. How much should an individual be willing to suffer ‘for the greater good?’ Is it foolish to struggle if one can avoid extreme pain b
Throne of Glass has been *forgive me* dethroned as my favorite horrible book of all time. An Ember in the Ashes has raised bad literature to an art form. As a fantasy, it’s dismal. As an alternate history, it’s atrocious. As a romance, it’s cringe-worthy. As a poignant bildungsroman that poses tough questions, it fails utterly. As a self-contained, standalone novel, it is a disaster—but that, at least, was always the plan.

Part I: World-Building

We find ourselves in a harsh desert. Once this land
Wendy Darling
Well, damn. There had better be a sequel for this book! Penguin, you can't just leave us hanging there!

The first few chapters are absolutely riveting (you can read an excerpt here, btw:, and the cruel, merciless world these characters inhabit is well drawn. The feel of this book reminded me of the Legend trilogy, actually, though I think Ember is more complex in plot, characters, and setting. It's fantasy that feels a bit dystopian, which is pretty inter
"There are two kinds of guilt. The kind that's a burden and the kind that gives you purpose. Let your guilt be your fuel. Let it remind you of who you want to be. Draw a line in your mind. Never cross it again. You have a soul. It's damaged, but it's there."

Spoiler Free Review

I'm in utter bliss after reading this!

ALL OF THE STARS, every single one! I am unashamedly in LOVE with this and everything about it. I can't believe it has taken me this long to actually read it! An Ember in the Ashes has
Natalie Monroe

Nice Natalie: Let's start this civil. After you.

Cynical Natalie: Don't mind if I do. An Ember In The Ashes is cliche tripe—

Nice Natalie: But we enjoyed it!

Cynical Natalie: Pipe down and wait your turn. As I was saying, it's your generic dystopian fantasy. Evil government+class divide+forbidden romance. Its only saving grace is that it's mildly better than Red Queen, which is like saying being dipped in acid is less painful than being burnt at stake.

Nice Natalie: Are you done?

Cynical Natalie: No.
Ashley Nuckles
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reread May 2018: 5 stars easily. SO much better the second time around omfg

4.5 stars!!


Even though it took me about 100 pages to actually start understanding and enjoying the book, I STILL LOVED IT!

As I was reading I kept imagining Laia as the girl on that famous Nat Geo magazine with the bright eyes and IT MADE THE EXPERIENCE SO MUCH BETTER.

I loved how both Laia and Elias developed in this book! (Though I did enjoy Elias' POV more at most parts, maybe just because it was m
Buddy reread with my baby, Hayley!
WOW is all i have to say right now.
I'll edit my review later.

“Once, i'd have wanted someone to tell me what to do,
to fix everything. Once, I'd have wanted to be saved."

WOW! I really don't know what to say without spoiling everything. The beginning was a little slow but what came after was totally worth it!... Who said this is a stand-alone novel?? HELLO? Did you miss that heart wrenching ending? There is no way i
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been throwing four and five stars here and there recently but it's not my fault that every other book I read turns out to be a gem.
All these (good) books came out during the time when even the word 'fantasy' would make me cringe but I've grown to like the genre so I'm lucky in this way that I have so many books to read now.
Anyway, this book is thrilling. The story is very different from other books in it's genre. The characters are so loveable (and some equally hateable. I'm looking at you
Chelsea Humphrey
Jul 30, 2017 marked it as dnf-lost-interest  ·  review of another edition
Maybe the hype train altered my expectations for this one or maybe I'm entering a dreaded slump, but I think I'm going to put this one down for now and try to come back to it when I'm not feeling so distracted. ...more
5 Bleeding, burning skies! STAR'S

“The field of battle is my temple. The sword point is my priest. The dance of death is my prayer. The killing blow is my release.”

“Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be. Too much fear and you're paralyzed. Too little fear and you're arrogant.”

Buddy read with my VK/GR bestie Tania Parvin

Wowww! I love 'An Ember in the Ashes'!! It was even better the second time around if that's even possible! Again... It captured me from the very first page and hel
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**My apologies if I don't respond to emails or friend requests right away! Come find me on Twitter or Instagram @sabaatahir, or on my web site:

Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes

Other books in the series

An Ember in the Ashes (4 books)
  • A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes, #2)
  • A Reaper at the Gates (An Ember in the Ashes, #3)
  • A ​Sky Beyond the Storm (An Ember in the Ashes, #4)

Articles featuring this book

Whether it’s magic schools, dystopias, paranormal love stories, or contemporary explorations of important real-life issues, young adult books...
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“Life is made of so many moments that mean nothing. Then one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after. Such moments are tests of courage, of strength.” 1621 likes
“There are two kinds of guilt. The kind that's a burden and the kind that gives you purpose. Let your guilt be your fuel. Let it remind you of who you want to be. Draw a line in your mind. Never cross it again. You have a soul. It's damaged but it's there. Don't let them take it from you.” 1211 likes
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